Golf news tends to come in a steady trickle. This week? The fire hydrant on your street has exploded. There’s golf news shooting in every direction! The landscape of professional golf is changing in real time. Guys are joining LIV. They’re resigning from the PGA Tour. Ditching the Ryder Cup. Golf’s largest organizations are releasing their responses. And more is coming.
How to make sense of it? Read on! We’ve got you covered.
Phil Mickelson joins LIV, opens up
After months of speculation, Phil Mickelson officially joined LIV. The announcement came with a statement that was part apology, part reflection and part announcement.
Mickelson also opened up in a Sports Illustrated interview in which he revealed his intentions to play all eight LIV events in 2022 as well as the remaining majors (the US Open and Open Championship). He stayed big picture with his regrets, referencing “a lot of mistakes” without getting into specifics. He has quickly brushed aside the concerns his critics have about partnering with the Saudi Arabian government, which is funding LIV. But there was one area he volunteered freely: his own gambling past.
Harig asked Mickelson if his decision to play LIV (and receive a reported nine-figure deal to do so) came as a result of “financial difficulties.” Mickelson said it hadn’t – but he went out of his way to acknowledge that he struggled with gambling and addiction not showing up.
“My gambling got to a point of being reckless and embarrassing,” he said. “I had to address it. And I’ve been addressing it for a number of years. And for hundreds of hours of therapy. I feel good where I’m at there. My family and I have been financially secure for some time.
“Gambling has been part of my life ever since I can remember,” he added. “But about a decade ago is when I would say it became reckless. It’s embarrassing. I don’t like that people know. The fact is I’ve been dealing with it for some time. Amy has been very supportive of it and with me and the process. We feel comfortable with where that is. It’s not a threat to me or my financial security. It was just a number of poor decisions. ”
LIV announces broadcast team
The league hasn’t secured a broadcast TV deal and its current plans are to stream LIV events through Facebook and YouTube. On Monday they announced the voices behind those plans
Longtime Premier League lead voice Arlo White will serve as lead commentator. The 49-year-old Brit, who also serves as the Emmy-winning Apple TV show “Ted Lasso,” doesn’t have a background calling golf.
He’ll be joined by a team of analysts that includes Golf Channel’s longtime LPGA presence Jerry Foltz, who left the network just ahead of last week’s US Women’s Open. Dom Boulet, a former Asian Tour pro-turned-commentator, will join them in the booth. Former long drive champ Troy Mullins and former pro Su-Ann Heng are among the on-course reporters.
You can read more about the broadcast here.
Tiger Woods turned down ‘mind-blowingly huge’ LIV sum
This came via Greg Norman in a Washington Post profile. In the interview, LIV’s CEO told the Post the 15-time major champion refused an “enormous” offer to join.
From the Post story: The PGA Tour over marketing rights. Norman says Woods turned down a deal that was “mind-blowingly huge; we’re talking about high nine digits. ”
High-nine digits! I’ll let you parse out exactly what that means. But it sounds like a lot of money.
On Tuesday, Woods announced that he will not be playing next week’s US Open, writing that his body “needs more time to get stronger for major championship golf.” He’s planning to make his return at the JP McManus Pro-Am and then play the Open Championship.
What does that have to do with LIV? Plenty, but only indirectly. Woods won’t have to answer questions on the subject. Golf’s national attention won’t split between Tigermania and LIV’s consequences. Instead, those coming from London’s LIV events will bear the brunt of the scrutiny at America’s national championship.
Ari Fleischer is running press conferences
With LIV, you never quite know the names that’ll pop up. Sure enough, there was former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer moderating press conferences on Tuesday.
Pros talk about ‘sportswashing’
Not all went smoothly. Associated Press journalist Rob Harris was escorted out of the media center after a kerfuffle near the end of a press conference. In the previous presser he’d asked Graeme McDowell what he thought of LIV’s role in doing PR for the Saudi government given its record on human rights. You can see how that went down:
Several players asked about sportswashing, including Talor Gooch,
Dustin Johnson headlines PGA Tour resignations
Joining LIV, Dustin Johnson announced that he was resigning his PGA Tour membership.
“At this time it is hard to talk about what the consequences will be, but for the right now, I resigned my membership from the Tour,” Johnson said. “I’m going to play here, you know, for now. That’s the plan. What the consequences will be, obviously I can’t comment on how the Tour’s going to handle. ”
He was far from the only one: The Associated Press reported that Sergio Garcia, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel had each already resigned their membership. Kevin Don’t take Twitter to explain his own decision.
There are potential benefits to resigning membership – the PGA Tour has more say over what its members can and cannot do – but not every LIV participant has done so. Mickelson, who is a lifetime PGA Tour member, told Sports Illustrated he isn’t giving his up.
“I worked really hard to earn that lifetime membership,” he said. “And I’m hopeful that I have the ability to play wherever I want, where it’s the PGA Tour, LIV or wherever else I want.”
The USGA responds, won’t block LIV golfers
Among the biggest questions surrounding players leaving the Tour was their ability to participate in major championships. This is where things get tricky; while the PGA Tour does not have any major golf events, the Augusta National, the PGA of America, the USGA and the R&A.
The US Open is next week, so the USGA’s answer is first and foremost, because it considers itself the “most open championship in the world,” already qualified from participating.
“Regarding players who may choose to play in London this week, we have simply asked ourselves this question – should our player decide on their way into the 2022 US Open, his decision to play in another event? And we ultimately decided they shouldn’t, ”the statement continued.
“Our decision regarding our field for the 2022 US should not be construed as supporting the alternative organizing entity, Rather, it is simply a response to whether or not the USGA plays an alternative event, without the consent of their home tour, the offense that should disqualify them for the US Open. ”
Coincidentally we had USGA CEO Mike Whan on the Drop Zone podcast just a couple days before this all went down; he spoke to LIV’s tenuous future and outlined why he thinks he faces challenges.
“I’ve never heard of one title sponsor, I’ve never heard of one revenue-generating thing. And that’s fine, it might be a really cool payday for a few guys for a while. But for me to believe this will be around long-term… it’s going to have to be a business. ”
You can listen to that complete interview on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify or at the embed below.
The USGA statement appears to leave open the possibility that the criteria could change in the future. There are several outstanding questions that would factor into players ‘qualifications, including LIV’s status in the eyes of the Official World Golf Ranking, pros’ status with the PGA Tour and DP World Tours and, well, there are a lot of moving parts . But the LIV pros sure seem resigned to whatever awaits.
“I can’t answer for the majors, but hopefully they’re going to allow us to play,” Johnson said. “Obviously, I’m exempt for the majors, so I plan on playing there, unless I hear otherwise.”
Phil Mickelson appears
We haven’t seen Mickelson in the public eye since the Saudi International in February. He made his return at LIV’s draft party with some stubble and a leather jacket:
The draft happens
Here’s the vibe from the draft, which was hosted by Shane O’Donoghue and Kirsty Gallacher:
And here are the draft results:
What’s next? Mickelson addresses the media on Wednesday morning, which will be a news event of its own. Further player announcements are expected to drop later in the week. Stay tuned – we’ll keep you updated golf news continues to flood the streets.